AI-Powered Accessibility: The Future for Online Retailers

AI-Powered Accessibility: The Future for Online Retailers

Online retailers exist in a new era of technological advancement, with AI leading the way. Artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with across online shopping. But what makes it such a powerful tool for online retail stores? And how is it being used to disrupt traditional business models and revolutionize the way we shop?

The AI revolution in online consumer products has taken the U.S retail industry by storm, with this advanced technology poised to generate $438 billion in revenue. If you are an online retailer looking to unlock efficiencies and reach a much wider audience, read on.

How AI is Transforming the Online Shopping Experience

The rise of AI-powered systems has revolutionized the online shopping experience, elevating it from a monotonous process to a highly personalized and convenient one. Gone are the days of browsing through endless product listings. With the help of AI algorithms, the online shopping experience has become effortless and efficient. These algorithms quickly curate recommendations and options that cater to the unique preferences and needs of each shopper.

Take the beauty industry, for example, AI-powered apps are being used on retail websites, allowing users to try on makeup virtually, helping them find the perfect products for their unique skin types and preferences. This personalized user experience is changing the game for how people shop for beauty products. 

Domino’s pizza chain also uses AI algorithms across their online retail stores to predict pizza delivery times and maintain quality control.

Another example of how AI is transforming the online shopping experience is Adidas. The well-known brand leverages AI-powered chatbots to provide tailored product recommendations and customer service to shoppers. They also use AI to design and manufacture custom shoes tailored to individual customers’ preferences and biomechanical data.

By consuming huge amounts of customer data, AI algorithms can uncover hidden insights and trends, allowing retail companies to deliver highly personalized product offerings and marketing campaigns that resonate with their customers on a deeper level. AI has become a critical tool for every retail company looking to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge in our new AI-fuelled generation of retail.

Despite the significant strides made with AI technology to improve the user experience, web accessibility remains a critical challenge that online retailers still need to address.

The Power of Web Accessibility for Online Retailers

Have you ever visited a website that made you feel frustrated or excluded? Perhaps you couldn’t navigate the site properly or struggled to read the text. Unfortunately, many people with disabilities encounter such barriers when accessing websites, preventing them from enjoying the same online experiences as others. 

The increasing prevalence of disabilities among people is one of the primary reasons why website accessibility has become such a pressing issue. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are up to 1 in 4 (26 per cent) adults in the United States with some type of disability. This includes individuals with a range of disabilities, such as mobility impairments, vision or hearing loss, cognitive disabilities, and chronic illnesses. 

As we move towards an increasingly digital age, can retailers afford to leave such a significant portion of their potential customers behind? How can retailers use AI technology to make their online stores accessible, ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to engage with their brand and products? 

5 Innovators in Online Retail Accessibility

There are some retail e-commerce brands making noteworthy progress towards achieving web accessibility. Here are five retailers who recognize the importance of creating inclusive and accessible digital experiences for all customers, regardless of their abilities:

1. Target – Target has made a commitment to web accessibility by implementing features such as keyboard navigation, alt text for images, and video captions. They also conducted extensive testing with users who have disabilities to improve the accessibility of their website.

2. Amazon – Amazon has a dedicated accessibility team that works to make its website and products accessible to people with disabilities. They have implemented features such as screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and adjustable font sizes.

3. Walmart – Walmart has made accessibility a priority by implementing features such as image alt tags, keyboard navigation, and video captions. They have worked with accessibility experts to improve the overall accessibility of their website.

4. Best Buy – In 2020, Best Buy launched its new “Assistive Chat” feature, designed to make it easier for customers with disabilities to get the help they need when shopping online. The Assistive Chat feature uses natural language processing to understand customer inquiries and provide responses in an easy to digest manner. It also includes accessibility features such as screen readers and voice commands to make the chatbot more accessible to customers with visual or physical disabilities.

5. Newegg – Newegg is an online electronics store retailer, specializing in computer hardware and software. Newegg has implemented an AI-powered chatbot on its website that is designed to assist customers with their shopping experience. This innovative online electronics store has incorporated accessibility features into its chatbot, such as screen readers and voice commands, making it more inclusive and accessible to customers with visual or physical disabilities.

10 Tips for Online Retail Website Accessibility

Do you run an online retail store and need tips on how to make your retail website more accessible? Following the guidelines set out by Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can be an excellent starting point as you start on the journey to making your online store more accessible to people with disabilities:

1. Prioritize keyboard navigation accessibility to ensure that all customers, including those with disabilities, have equal access to their products and services.

2. Use clear and concise language, as well as meaningful and descriptive labels for all content.

3. Provide alternative text for all images, videos, and other non-text content. This will help people who are blind or have low vision who use screen readers to access your digital content. 

4. Use high-contrast color schemes to help individuals with visual impairments or color blindness more easily navigate and use the website. 

5. Make sure that people who are deaf or have hearing impairments can access videos with closed captions. Closed captions provide a text-based alternative to the audio, enabling viewers to follow the content even if they are unable to hear it.

6. Ensure that all forms are accessible, including providing clear and concise instructions and labeling all form fields.

7. Test the website for accessibility using automated and manual methods, and address any issues that are identified. Use a robust audit tool to assess your WCAG compliance levels and guidance on how to remedy any barriers to accessibility.

8. Consider implementing AI technologies that can enhance accessibility, such as speech recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning.

9. Stay up-to-date with the latest accessibility guidelines and best practices, and continuously work to improve the website’s accessibility for all users.

It’s possible to implement these best practices without much technical know-how but there will be modifications that require an accessibility expert. For a website that meets WCAG’s success criteria for accessibility and meets ADA compliance, a blend of AI and human expertise will be required. Your online retail store will reap the benefits when humans and AI work in synergy.

UserWay: Leading the AI Accessibility Revolution

With the growing importance of web accessibility, AI-powered technologies have emerged as a powerful tool for retailers to enhance the online shopping experience for all customers, including those with disabilities. 

UserWay’s AI-Powered Digital Accessibility Widget is a tool that combines market-leading tech with human expertise, helping online retailers improve web accessibility for all users. The widget uses artificial intelligence to identify accessibility issues on a website and provides solutions to fix them in real-time. It provides a variety of features such as screen reader and keyboard navigation compatibility, high contrast mode, and adjustable font sizes. 

The widget can be easily installed on any website, allowing retailers to quickly and efficiently make their websites more compliant and accessible for customers. 

With the increasing importance of web accessibility in online retail, UserWay’s AI-Powered Digital Accessibility Widget can help retailers stay ahead of the curve and provide an inclusive shopping experience for all.

Interested in AI-powered accessibility for your online store? Sign up for a free trial today to get started.

Common FAQs

Why is Web Accessibility Crucial for Online Retailers?

Web accessibility is crucial for online retailers because it ensures compliance with legal requirements, opens new markets and customer segments, improves the user experience for all customers, and enhances the brand’s reputation. In today’s digital age, accessibility is not just a moral obligation but also a business imperative that retailers cannot afford to ignore.

What ethical considerations should online retailers take into account when using AI to make business decisions?

There are many ethical considerations to bear in mind with accessibility in online retail. Retail managers should strive to provide accessible and inclusive experiences for customers with disabilities, ensuring that their AI-powered tools and services are designed with accessibility in mind, and are compatible with screen readers, captioning, and other assistive technologies. 

Can individuals with cognitive disabilities use online retail experiences?

Yes! This becomes possible with the appropriate accessibility accommodations and features such as easy navigation, clear and simple language, and options for adjusting text size and color contrast. The implementation of chatbots with natural language processing can also help users with cognitive disabilities find the products they need and complete transactions with ease.

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